A group of Oklahoma City volunteers, in collaboration with a Texas-based organization, has scheduled an abortion doula training session to take place in September.
An abortion doula is similar to a traditional doula only in that they provide support for a woman, Kylie Shelley said. Shelley herself is a trained doula who is overseeing the doula training in Oklahoma City in collaboration with Cicada Collective, a full-spectrum doula organization out of Denton, Texas.
“There’s a huge birth movement with doulas and midwives. Abortion, on the other end of the spectrum, is lacking experienced people to support people who end their pregnancies,” Shelley said.
The training will be held over two days and will educate participants on the aspects of providing support to women who have abortions, which Shelley said can be a physically and emotionally grueling experience.
Doulas are not physicians, and there will not be medical training available, but doulas are taught physical and emotional support, which is different for everyone and something the training will examine.
“Something I learned was mirroring language. As a doula, if a person wants to call their fetus a baby, then you talk about it as a baby. You have to leave your politics at home … and mirror whatever the person wants to talk about,” Shelley said.
The training is open to everyone, and both Cicada Collective and the OKC volunteers emphasize that the event will prioritize queer and trans people as well as people of color (QTPOC) applications. The organizers believe volunteers from these groups are vital because women of all persuasions undergo abortions, but some have less support in place to help them through the procedure. Therefore, members of QTOPC and other minority groups can provide specific support that others might not be cognizant of or familiar with.
“We want to do that because [QTPOC] are already a marginalized community, and in order for doulas to support those people, I think that people from their own communities need to be supporting them,” Shelley said. “Queer, gender non-conforming and transgendered people already have a hard time accessing health care in general because some doctors don’t know how to approach transgender folks.”
According to reproductive health advocates, one in three women will have an abortion by the age of 45, which means it transcends all classes, races and backgrounds. It’s a fact that further illustrates the need for doula services, Shelley said.
The doula training takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 13-14. Individuals with serious inquiries can apply by emailing Shelley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There will be a $30-$60 dollar fee for the training, which will be determined on a sliding scale. However, Shelley emphasizes that no one will be turned away for lack of funds. The fee covers snacks as well as on-site childcare.